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Life & Work with Kendall Hughes

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kendall Hughes. 

Hi Kendall, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
I have the typical small-town girl story. I grew up in Hobe Sound, Florida. A super small beach town on the east coast. My dad built the house I grew up in and I had never moved until I went to college. I went to Ave Maria University, a small catholic college in a secluded town on the west coast of Florida, where I majored in music with a concentration in vocal performance. I was also the captain of our university cheerleading team for all 4 years, in which I was given the responsibility of running the program my sophomore year when our coach resigned. During my free time, I worked with Opera Naples in their adult chorus and taught voice lessons at the Naples Performing Arts Center. This busy schedule was brought to a halt the spring semester of my junior year when the pandemic hit. During that time, I decided to give social media a little more attention. It wasn’t until I met my girlfriend Madison the Fall semester of my senior year that I really started to see any results. We were doing long-distance and she would drive 9 hours from Pensacola to come see me and we would make videos of little adventures we went on or road trips that we would make to see each other. Most of my senior year was spent in the car going to see her or meeting her at our “halfway” spot in Tampa at the hotel Alba. I would make little videos documenting all of these moments and people seemed to love them. We actually picked the apartment we currently live in after a spontaneous trip in the middle of the night, we were driving around St. Pete at 1 am joking around about the idea of her moving here and we decided on one that looked the most lit up at night because she wanted me to feel safe. She ended up leasing an apartment in that building the next week and moved 7 hours closer to me for the second half of my senior year. I graduated in May of 2021, found a job in the city, and moved in. We were welcomed with open arms into the LGBTQIA+ community on TikTok. We have seen almost only positive feedback from our peers and have made quite a few friends through the app! During the day you will find me managing our social media pages, brainstorming new content, and answering emails before I go into work in the afternoon. 

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
It has not always been a smooth road. We have faced a number of challenges in the past year, not only with social media but also with our relationship. The reality of a budding relationship whilst also having the immense pressure of posting content is difficult. We were trying to learn how to communicate, listen to each other’s needs, and caring for our own mental health, all while trying to keep up the appearance of stable TikTok couple. It became a lot. Luckily, the dust has settled and we have a pretty solid communication system, we put mental health first always. Social media can become draining and the unpredictability of how an audience is going to respond is stressful. I had my account banned in May without any warning and that took a major toll on me. Here I am freshly graduated, excited to take on the world, and my whole career gets snatched from me not even 2 weeks in, talk about terrified. I ended up getting my account back after 300+ support tickets and emails. I think the biggest struggle currently is the drive to continue making content even single day. Sometimes I will begin to burn out from posting every day or feel like I am being glued to my phone, so I will take mental health breaks for a day or two to recharge. 

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
Other than my social media, not many people know I am a classically trained singer! I have been in the opera world since my sophomore year of high school. Singing is basically the only thing I am super passionate about. I am currently working as a voice teacher, teaching all genres of music while upholding the healthy classical techniques. I would love to get into a local band and plan on creating my own music at home very soon. Alongside music, I am also a gymnastics coach. I have been cheering since 3rd grade and it’s a part of who I am. I really enjoy helping kids become strong athletes for our new generation of gymnasts and cheerleaders. 

If you had to, what characteristic of yours would you give the most credit to?
In my opinion, the quality that has led to my success is transparency. We don’t think of ourselves as “influencers”, we are just two women in love that like to post videos together. The majority of our following is the younger generation of the queer community. We get asked questions like “how do I come out” or “how do I handle this situation” and although we love to help out our followers, just like giving a friend advice, we often remind them that we aren’t qualified to tell them how to handle these things and we can only speak from personal experiences. We also have added pressure of being an example for a queer relationship. that means we can’t only post the good moments because that would be doing our followers a disservice. We are transparent about the fact that we do fight, have disagreements, and have had some serious rough patches. I think it’s important to be honest about those things. 

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Image Credits:

Valeria Tkacik Dezyhphotgraphy

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